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In yet another sign that the President will be facing a very tough reelection campaign, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that 48% of Americans believe that we are likely to enter a new Great Depression within the next year.
Not coincidentally 48% of respondents in the same survey also say that a member of their household has lost their job within the past 12 months or that they are worried they will lose their job in the near future. As high unemployment rates drag on, the average time required to find new work has grown to just over 9 months, a level unprecedented since the Bureau of Labor statistics started tracking that data in 19481. If this trend persists, people will undoubtedly continue to become more pessimistic about the likelihood of an economic recovery.
Only one President since FDR has been reelected with an unemployment rate over 6%, Ronald Reagan in 1984, and he benefited from the end of skyrocketing inflation and growing job market leading into the election.
Even among those who have not been directly affected by the nation’s high unemployment rate are feeling the economic pinch every time they go to fill up their gas tank. The average price of Gas across the county has gone up $1.056 in the past year and more than doubled since president Obama took office2. As a result another CNN/Opinion Research poll conducted April 29-May 1 found that 63% of Adults have cut back significantly on how much they drive and 58% have made significant cuts in overall household spending.
Combine these tangible impacts on the average voter with constant and conflicting stories in the media about the threat of government default if the federal debt ceiling is not raised as well as the seemingly unstoppable growth of the budget deficit, and you have a recipe for continued distrust of the President’s ability to turn the economy around, and a ripe opportunity for Republican candidates in 2012.